Friday, May 23, 2008

Barbie Had a Rough Day

While making BLT's for lunch I was called outside to see the coolest rocket in the tree. The kids were laughing and saying that Mrs. Mandez was having a really rough day. I didn't ask any questions, I was just waiting to see this cool rocket. Turns out it wasn't a rocket at all, but poor Barbie, aka Mrs. Mandez, stuck in a tree. See Mrs. Mandez (Gabrielle's mother - you know THE Gabrielle from High School Musical) was upset that Gabrielle was going to marry Troy and so in a fit of rage she somehow ended up 15 feet up in an oak tree.

One awesome dad with a payloader. One awesome brother not afraid of heights. One happily rescued Barbie.

Very Insightful

(Lee, after trying on Lou's new headbands)

No wonder she's so cranky. These headbands are so tight they are slowly killing her brain.

Today's Toy of Choice

Initially, the mom that doesn't want her stuff broken, almost blurted out, "Put that away, I don't want it broken." But quickly I realized they were actually using it as intended - to weigh items. So I just kicked back and watched them have more fun with it than I ever have. The kids had so much fun weighing their wallets, full of change. They weighed math books and pencils and toy tractors and then started a game of, "Which weighs more?" And to think I almost stifled all that learning.

FYI: The toy scale cannot be found at Toys "R Us.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Walk Around the Yard

Finally a sunny and somewhat warm day. I actually pulled myself away from all my indoor obligations and took to the outdoors just to soak up the sun. It really helped my mood as well. Here's what I found beautiful while watering flowers and enjoying the newly mown lawn.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

So...What Do You Do All Day?

If you're a stay at home mom, I can guarantee you've fielded this question once or twice. If you homeschool, the same is true. Some ask because they honestly have no idea what a person could possibly do all day at home with children. Some ask because they are thinking about making a change and want some insight into the "at home" world. Some are just giddy with curiosity about what it's like homeschooling a relatively large family. Others, sadly, are asking the question to find out how you might be failing your children. For all of these reasons today I decided to keep tabs of all we do, so others can gain a little insight into the life of this one homeschooling family.

6:30 - 7:30 - I woke to find DH up and watching a little morning news. Lee was already up and having his first breakfast of 3 pieces of cinnamon sugar toast and water. I washed up, dressed, made the bed, opened some shades, folded a load of laundry, checked emails and started on making pancakes. DH shut down the sprinklers; it was a frosty night on the cranberry marsh.

7:30 - 8:30 - The girls and Ray got up and joined us at the breakfast table. Lee was having his second breakfast of 4 pancakes and juice. Ray helped me make a Mickey Mouse pancake using blueberries for his face. We all ate. Cranberry juice was spilled to the floor. The kids did their morning jobs. They dressed, made beds, brushed teeth, put away their clean laundry, fed the animals, folded socks and collected dirty laundry and practiced instruments. Lee and Ray finished quickly, so they headed out to check their chipmunk traps. Grace joined them for a little morning bike riding, while Lou stayed in to practice piano. She's a little slow in the morning, therefore, not getting much play time before school. I tidied up the kitchen, loaded the dishwasher, made some mental notes regarding a lunch menu, brushed my teeth, started a load of laundry and read a few blogs.

8:30-9:30 - DH did some paper work and then left for a weed management seminar. I balanced the checkbook, switched over the laundry, filled out a rebate form, and filled out the registration form for Something for Summer. Grace settled in to do math and spelling. I helped her with an estimation problem, otherwise no concerns. Lee worked on language arts and spelling. Lou and Ray played babies with all the new baby gear - car seat, bouncy seat, baby swing.

9:30 - 10:30 - I gave Lee his spelling test and checked his language assignment, folded laundry and put it away, started another load of wash, wiped down the bathroom sink and toilet and suggested the kids have a snack of cheese and crackers. They all took a break to snack and check on the baby chicks. Grace and Lou collected trash and took it to the dumpster.

10:30-11:30 - Lou and Ray played music and danced, dressed up and played with their dolls outside and checked on their pet turtle, Rocky. Grace biked to the mailbox to send out my rebate and then read a couple chapters from her current Narnia read. Lee read 10 pgs. from his current book and then started math. I wiped up the cheese and cracker mess, swept the kitchen floor, placed a few more items in the dishwasher and did a quick pickup around the dining table.

11:30 - 12:30 - Reheated leftover soup, applesauce and chip salad for lunch. Definition of chip salad - a mixed variety of chips and crackers in a bowl, usually the bottom of the bag chips which have been hanging around in the pantry for a few weeks, also usually eaten with a spoon due to small size of chip pieces. DH got home just in time for lunch. Grape Kool-Aid was almost spilled. The kids had ice cream for dessert while DH and I read through the mail. I tidied the kitchen, loaded the dishwasher and started it and washed remaining dishes.

12:30 - 1:30 - DH headed out to work. Grace started mowing the lawn. Lou did her math. Lee continued with his math. I explained the terms: average, mean, median, range and mode to him and then he finished his assignment. Ray played outside. I basically helped Lou with her math.

1:30 - 2:30 - I started typing up this blog post. Grace continued mowing. Lee and Ray caught a frog and worked on setting up a habitat for it. They found some info in the Creepy Crawlies book. Lee complained that his aquarium isn't large enough and tried making a case for us having a kiddie pool in the porch for critters. Case denied. Lou wanted to do another math page so I helped her with that and answered many questions regarding frog habitats because I must be the expert.

2:30 - 3:30 - The boys continued working on their frog habitat, digging up some dirt, collecting cattail leaves, searching for worms, finding just the right rocks, etc. Ray and I made peanut butter cookies. Grace finished mowing and had a snack.

3:30 - 4:30 - I unloaded the dishwasher, made a few phone calls and then called everyone in to get ready for a funeral visitation.

4:30-5:30 - We all went to the visitation and then Grace and I left for violin.

5:30 - 6:30 - DH sharpened the mower blades. Lee peeled oranges for supper and the others played. Grace and I were in town for violin.

6:30 - 7:30 - Grace and I returned home for pizza and movie night. We had freezer pizzas, orange wedges, water and peanut butter cookies while watching National Treasure.

9:00 - Kids went to bed and DH and I attempted to watch 27 Dresses. We both fell asleep on the couch and finally woke and went to bed around 11pm.

So that's one day in my life. Not a very exciting day, but a very average day.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

How to Save Gas....

....according to a 10 and 9 year old.

Last Saturday night we were having a late dinner without dad, which meant we were probably having something like toast and apple slices or cereal and milk, I can't remember. Anyway, talk about the next day's activities came up and I mentioned first off was church. Grace said, "You know, mom, we could just stay home and watch TV mass. It'd be a great way to save gas." Lee piped in with all kinds of ideas about making our own hosts and how "we must have something around here we can use for wine".

Nice try, kiddos! High gas prices is not an emergency.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Funny Section

Looking for a birthday card for mom can be difficult. Should I get a sappy, you've always been there for me card or maybe a funny, you survived all these years with me as your daughter, how did you ever manage? kind of card. Musical cards are fun and add a bit of interest when we can't be there on the exact day. The witty, you're growing older cards are kind of cute, but very impersonal for mom. We girls looked and read and laughed and groaned at all the cards in Walgreens today. The generic funny section had some real doosies. Lou picked up card after card begging me to read, mom, read. Most were inappropriate for young ears so I just kept saying pick another. She was getting very discouraged by all this redirecting that finally I just read one to her. I read it quick and it wasn't that bad. Here's the front line of the card....

I have boobs in low places. (I didn't even get a chance to read the inside to her when she quickly responded)

Lou: That's not funny. I thought we were in the funny section.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bird Watching

This Indigo Bunting visited our feeder last Monday, on and off all day. It's a good thing it was only one day because I get nothing done when he's around. Even the kids are mesmerized by his beauty. All schoolwork comes to a halt as we stare out the kitchen and bathroom windows watching him flit from feeder to feeder to the clothesline and then the spruce. 

Many other birds have been visiting lately, including the Rose breasted Grosbeak, Goldfinch, Red - winged Blackbird, Baltimore Oriole, Purple Finch and House Finch, various Sparrows and Swallows. The following pictures are from a while back, but wanted to share anyway.

Movie Night

Looks like it'll be Shrek the Third with homemade pizza and lots of rhubarb for dessert.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Quilting Day

Quilting Day is one of my most favorite days of the month. Good company and conversation. Fun for the kids, 8 in total between the two of us. Today I will be starting on a new project - a baby quilt for baby Joseph, due in late August. My track record isn't so hot for finishing projects in a timely manner so wish me luck. Here are a few of my most recent completed projects.

My very first quilt project ever started. Began 1999 - Finished March 2008

Our bed quilt; I started this when our wedding quilt started to shred at the seams. Began 2006 - Finished April 2008

A Valentine table runner. I fell in love with the fabrics at a quilt show back in February. The dark red is a tone on tone heart print. Began April 2008 - Finished May 2008

Sweet Grace made a matching pillowcase for her bed quilt, which I finished many years ago. If I was a good quilter, I'd make tags with the date and name of quilt and affix them to the backside of the quilt. But, by the time I get a quilt finished I am so excited to get on to the next project that I just skip the quilt tag part.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Cake Mix Goodies

To some the idea of using a cake mix for anything seems, well totally not homemade. I am not one of those. Although I do love from scratch cooking and do plenty of it, I'm not too proud to stock my pantry with a variety of cake mixes. Two of my favorite things to do with them is make super quick Cake Mix Cookies and coffee cake. First a note about the Cake Mix Cookie recipe. I usually use a Devil's Cake Mix, but any flavor that goes with oatmeal and chocolate chips would be yummy. Last night while making these cookies for my daughter and her sleepover friend, I had a brainiac moment - wouldn't a yellow cake mix with oatmeal and peanut butter chips (or Reece's Pieces) be absolutely delish? I better add those items to my store slip.

Now for the coffee cake recipe. While perusing the latest edition of our family cookbook I ran across this recipe and starred it immediately. Simple ingredients and no nuts or cooked fruit. I have a 9 year old boy (name withheld) who likes simple desserts without nuts or cooked fruit. He will eat plain nuts and plain fruit, just not cooked and definitely not together.

Rippled Coffee Cake
1 yellow cake mix
1 cup sour cream
4 eggs
2/3 cup oil

In a mixing bowl, combine above ingredients and beat well. Spread 1/2 of the batter into a greased 9x13 pan.

1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. cinnamon

Stir together above ingredients and sprinkle over batter. Carefully spread remaining batter on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Mine usually takes about 35-40 minutes. Allow to cool until just warm. Make icing.

2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup milk

Combine above ingredients. Drizzle over warm cake. I make a 1/2 recipe (1 cup powdered sugar) of the icing because the full recipe, although extremely delicious, is a little too sweet for the average coffee cake lover. What I love about drizzling the glaze over the warm cake is that it soaks in a bit, especially around the edges. Ooohh, it's so good. Allow the glaze to dry before cutting into the cake. Serve with tall glasses of cold milk or large mugs of hot, black coffee.

So what do you do with cake mixes? Share.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Quick, Get in Bed

It's been one of those days where you wish night would come so everyone could retreat safely to their beds and you will be relieved of your nurse duties. We've had a number of boo-boos today. Some big, some small. First there was Ray's stubbed toe with a small flap of skin turned over just enough to allow in the day's dirt. Then came the barrage of Lou's hurts. The bent back finger, the peeling scab from last week's biking accident, the cat scratches and bites (from training the cat to do dog tricks). Lee was kicked or hit (no one seems to know for sure) in the left kidney, had the wind knocked out of him and developed a 50 cent piece sized bruise. Later he had his finger pinched in the dishwasher, not that big of deal except my dishwasher doesn't close without an extra push or open flat anymore. And lastly Grace just had her feelings hurt when she realized just how hurt Lee was after the kick/hit incident. After a day like this, I say, just go to bed where you are safe. I need a break.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Planning for Next Year

Hard to believe I'm already thinking of next school year, but there's no denying it. With the school year coming to an end, there's a feeling of relief. We've made it another year. The kids actually seem smarter now than they did last August. Maturity has something to do with it, but I hope I've had some influence on their education as well. Back in January we tried a new schedule, two weeks on, one week off, two weeks on, etc. The plan was that we'd concentrate heavily on school during the on weeks and leave one week for extras that come up without feeling guilty about not accomplishing much school. Well we kept the schedule for January, February and March before realizing that life happens no matter what. I could not control the extras to only come up during the off week. And I realized we accomplished more during our crazy times than I originally thought. So we went back to schooling everyday allowing for the craziness of life to take over. Once, we thought we'd be schooling until the end of July and taking a break for the baby during August and September, but now we are determined to finish by the end of May except for Math which will probably continue through June. Summer has too much to offer and I definitely don't want to miss out on the shortness of it.

Back to planning for next year. I have a $500 wish list of materials, which I will be paring down significantly. I've already secured a few items used, through Cathswap and I'm so happy to borrow Saxon 6/5 from a friend. So far I've saved $83.40 off my original total. Preparing early has always allowed me to just sit back and enjoy the summer without worrying about placing orders for materials or planning our lessons for the next year. I know that come September I can pull out my notebook and within minutes we are ready for another school year. Besides the planning is the fun and easy part, implementing the plan and schedule is the hard part.